View Full Version : Scoliosis and constipation?

01-18-2006, 04:23 PM
Hi everyone,

I was just reading the thread from "Jen", and was extremely interested about what was being said about constipation. Is there a definite link between scoliosis and constipation?

My daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis at 2 (she is now 4). There is also a suspected underlying neuro-muscular disease. She has suffered from chronic constipation practically from birth. Our GP and Paediatrician just shrugged it off every time I brought it up, and told me to give her more fibre. It was only when she was nearly 3 a health visitor saw her distressed, howling and doubled over (a regular event) that I was finally given a repeat prescription of senna and lactulose (a stool softener). I was also given a referral to a "continence adviser". They said that her distress was due to her attempting to retain stools to avoid pain caused by earlier bouts of constipation.

She is still seeing the "continence adviser"...but I just don't totally buy into this "retention" theory. She is toilet trained now, has no toilet phobia, is on daily senna and lactulose and has a good high fibre diet. However she still seems to find it actually physically difficult and uncomfortable to pass stools (even when they are completely loose), and if she doesn't get her medication everything quickly jams up completely . The paediatrician still says it's not linked to the scoliosis, the ortho says "not my field". The neuro didn't seem interested. The only person who showed any interest was a professor of dermatology at Great Ormond Street Hospital who was taking a "full history" for research into mid-line haemangiomas. She said that the birthmark, the scoliosis, muscle weakness and constipation were not seperate conditions but were all linked together.

Emma doesn't suffer from GERD.Does anybody know anything about what physically can cause these sorts of problems, and how it could be diagnosed?


01-18-2006, 05:38 PM
You might want to see a pediatric gastroentrologist. This is a doc that deals with problems of the bowel and stomach. Her ortho and her pedi doc would not necessarly know how to treat her. Her Pedi doc should have recommended a gastroentrologist. Ask him.

01-18-2006, 07:35 PM
I would agree on seeing a gastro.
I was born not only with the scoliosis but some other problems one of which is something called anal atresia which is narrowed or absent anal opening, also sometimes called imperforate anus).
This was corrected with surgery when I was born.

Have them check to make sure her anal opening is the right size.

01-19-2006, 05:14 AM
I definitely think you are right about seeing a gastro, in fact it was suggested by our GP some time back....but the paediatrician wouldn't make the referral saying it was just a childhood problem that she would grow out of. Mind you the paed said when she couldn't walk at 2 yrs old "Oh she's just a late developer. It was the same health visitor I mentioned before, who actually recognised the scoliosis and muscle problems and initiated subsequent referrals.

This is one drawback of the National Health Service in the UK...treatment is free (which is great), but it's very hard to switch paediatricians, particularly if you live in a small city (only one hospital). I had to fight to get her seen at Great Ormond St in London, where she now goes for ortho, neuro and dermatology, but we're still stuck with this local paed. However I will try and bypass him and see if I can get a referral from the neuro when we see her in April.

P.S Good luck with your surgery "Kat" hope it all goes ok!

01-19-2006, 03:56 PM
Braydon has GERD, gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying) and is prone to constipation. He was born with anal stenosis (5 months of rectal dilations were needed). He is on a bowel management program to keep him "moving". Without senna-based laxatives, he wouldn't have a bowel movement. Some kids need to have help with their GI system.

In kids with congenital spine malformations, constipation and other GI issues seem common. I don't know of any scientific studies that link scoliosis (congenital or idiopathic) to GI problems, but I know of many who have both issues.

12-01-2006, 09:52 AM
emmasmum, i am 31 and had scoliosis spinal fusion with harrington rod when i was 11. i also have had constipation all my life. i also have a haemangioma and I suffer from muscle weakness (which may contribute to the constipation). i'm interested in the dermatologist doing research at the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Do you have her name? I'd love to be part of the research. I feel that scoliosis affects other systems of the body and there is scant research on this. I'm currently having some problems related to my constipation and the doctors do not link it with scoliosis but I think it may be and would love to talk to this doc you mentioned. thanks!

01-20-2007, 08:07 PM
[QUOTE=emmasmum] research into mid-line haemangiomas. She said that the birthmark, the scoliosis, muscle weakness and constipation ....

I had to fight to get her seen at Great Ormond St in London, where she now goes for ortho, neuro and dermatology, but we're still stuck with this local paed. However I will try and bypass him and see if I can get a referral from the neuro when we see her in April.QUOTE]

Did the neuro do an MRI? Does she have any urinary issues? When the dermatologist said these things go together, she probably meant a tethered spinal cord. The hemangioma is a skin marker for TC, when the bottom of the spinal cord is stuck and not free floating, and this causes neurological problems over time with the bowels, bladder and leg nerves... Billy had a midline hemangioma over his sacral spine above his buttocks, muscle issues in his left leg, constipation (although like katblack he had an imperforate anus), etc. and was diagnosed with a tethered cord. Tension on the nerves to the muscles in the area can pull on the spine and cause scoliosis also, or worsen existing scoliosis.

Here is an article about skin markers and tethered cord...


Hopefully this has already been ruled out... by neuro, do you mean neurologist or neurosurgeon, because neurosurgeons treat tethered cord... Also, thank goodness for the senna laxative, but fiber makes Billy worse not better... we stay away from things that are TOO high in fiber, especially popcorn, it totally stops him up. You might be better with a regular rather than high fiber diet with her constipation, especially if muscle weakness is preventing her from pushing it out well... It's easy and worth a weeks trial or so, you can always go back to the fiber if it doesn't work...

04-04-2007, 05:25 PM

Sorry for the late reply, but I haven't visited the site for a while. First of all Curvygirl....The dermatologist Emma saw at Grt Ormond St was Dr Syed who worked with Prof Harper...I'm not sure how active the "research" she referred to is....but she certainly helped to get me referrals to the other depts within the hospital.

As a result it has now been revealed that Emma is also hemiplegic as a result of damage to the left side of the brain at or before birth. She is also presenting a lot (but not all) of the symptoms of Aspergers syndrome. So I've been busy genning up on their associated websites/forums hence my absence from this one! The haemangioma (which is resolving well) is on the midline of her forehead, the dimple is just above her buttock crease.

There's so many conditions going on, that it's hard to know what's going on! Emma is now having normal bowel movements every day (not rabbit pellets!) WITHOUT any medication at all (goodbye senna and lactullose). However it still seems to take a lot of effort, furious head rubbing and occasional complaints of discomfort. Her MRI showed no evidence of tethered spine.

I'm now starting to wonder whether it's a combination of muscle weakness and hyper-sensitivity to tactile sensation, which manifests itself in lots of strange ways apparently in kids with aspergers. When her brace is off she can't bear having her torso touched (bounces around like a cat on hot bricks) cos "it's too tickly" and rolls around on the floor trying to get rid of "the itch". She also has "hyper-sensitive hearing" and throws hysterical panic attacks over certain noises (hoovers, hand-driers, lawnmowers etc).

This "multi-condition" thing is just so confusing, it's hard to see the wood for the trees (what's treatable and what isn't, for instance) :confused: Anyway at least she doesn't seem to be overly worried about any of this (she seems to accept it all as "normal stuff" now), and has started sighing and telling me "Don't worry Mum I'm okay!" :o